HOW HAS THIS COME OF YOU, ARJUNA?
Shri Krishna Bhagwan said to Arjuna, ‘कुतस्त्वा कश्मलमिदं विषमे समुपस्थितम्। अनार्यजुष्टम् अस्वर्ग्यम् अकीíतकरम् अर्जुन॥’ – ‘Kutastvã kashmalamidam vishame samupasthitam, anãryajushtam asvargyam akeertikaram Arjuna’ – ‘O Arjuna! No great man would do such actions. Moreover, such actions would not help one attain heaven, such actions would not even give one fame. How have these tainted actions come of you at such an inappropriate time’ (Gita 2.2).
Shri Krishna Bhagwan himself is expressing his astonishment to Arjuna. Arjuna means one who has a pure, clean antahkaran. How did this taint enter such an antahkaran. Even more astonishing than this is that the very action that Arjuna believed to be the best action, was really something that great men would not do (anãryajushtam). Arjuna had felt that if I fight I will not attain heaven, and with this thought he had decided not to fight. But, in fact, this very decision was one that would not lead to heaven (asvargyam). Arjuna felt that the war would lead to dishonour and thus wanted to stay away from the war, but in reality staying away from the war would be the cause of dishonour (akeertikaram). In this way, it is astonishing that the thoughts and decisions of someone like Arjuna are wandering in the completely opposite direction at such a crucial time. This is what brings these words to Shri Krishna’s lips.
Having said this, Shri Krishna says an important thing.
‘क्लैब्यं मा स्म गमः पार्थ नैतत्त्वय्युपपद्यते। क्षुद्रं हृदयदौर्बल्यं त्यक्तवोत्तिष्ठ परंतप॥’ – ‘Klaibyam mã sma gamaha Partha Naitattvayyupapadyate, Kshudram hrudayadaurbalyam tyaktavottishtha Paramtapa’ – ‘O Pruthã’s son, Arjuna! Don’t become impotent. This does not befit you. O one who is terrifying to the enemy, stop being weak-hearted and arise’ (Gita 2.3).
Klaibyam means impotence, lack of strength. Just like it is useless to expect the fruit of progeny from an impotent person, similarly, even though Arjuna felt his decisions were appropriate, as far as Shri Krishna was concerned, they were useless and unfruitful. Actually, Arjuna and weakness are two things that cannot be imagined together. He did not in the slightest lack physical strength. He was not at all scared of the enemy. He was intelligent. He was very skilled in war tactics. Yet his weakness was due to something different. He had become subject to a weak heart. He had collapsed from within. He had been struck with disease caused by the fear of imagined sins and unrighteousness. Thus he had forgotten his duty. Shri Krishna Bhagwan knew Arjuna’s duty very well. He also knew that physical strength and intellectual ability were not sufficient for one to fulfil one’s duty; for that one needs inner courage as well. Without inner courage, physical strength and intellectual ability are of no use. Arjuna was in the same situation. Weakness had suddenly taken a grasp on him. That is why in this shloka, telling him to discard his impotence (Klaibyam mã sma gamaha), Shri Krishna attacks his inner weakness and encourages him.
Explaining the reason for Arjuna to abandon his cowardice, Shri Krishna Bhagwan says, ‘नैतत् त्वयि उपपद्यते’ – ‘Naitat tvayi upapadyate’ – ‘O Arjuna! This does not befit you.’
Here, Shri Krishna was reminding him of his valour, awakening his pride and making him aware of his role. It was as though Krishna was hinting at his true form: O Arjuna! Who are you? To whom do you belong? Think about your responsibility. Think about your abilities. O Parth! You are an extremely powerful and brave warrior. When you were born, there was a divine utterance saying that you will be the foremost of all warriors. Moreover, remember your bravery, you single-handedly defeated everyone on the battlefield showing your expertise in weaponry. You defeated Indra during the Khandavdah incident. You saved Acharya Drona from an alligator. You have attained all these honours and more. Therefore, O Arjuna! This does not befit you (naitattvayi upapadyate).
Moreover, O Parth! To forget one’s duty and be controlled by one’s emotions is an inferior level of weakness of the heart. Therefore, O one who terrifies foes! Forsake this inferior weakness and arise to perform your duty.
The address, ‘one who terrifies foes’ opens up a new perspective for us. Shri Krishna does not address the crying disheartened Arjuna as a crybaby or coward. Even though Arjuna may be crying at the time, Shri Krishna can simultaneously see his true strength. This is an ideal example of how to help the fallen back to their feet.
Thus Krishna first gave Parth a dose of valour, and we will see what he gave thereafter in the next article.
Sadhu Bhadreshdas, Ph. D., D.Litt.
Translated by: Sadhu Paramvivekdas